Rutgers' move to Big Ten could help land S.J. stars

Top recruits such as Ray Lawry and Marques Little like the competition that the new schedule brings.

Posted: November 24, 2012

Ray Lawry and Marques Little always liked Rutgers.

They liked the Scarlet Knights even more after Tuesday.

That's when Rutgers announced that it will join the Big Ten Conference, an earth-shaking move that likely will have a dramatic impact on recruiting in South Jersey.

"They are a lot more attractive now that they are in the Big Ten," said Lawry, a junior running back at Kingsway who likely will be one of the state's top recruits in the class of 2014.

Little, a junior running back at Williamstown, feels the same way.

"I definitely look at them differently now," Little said.

Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson, who has sent several players to top Division I programs, also believes Rutgers will be more attractive to recruits as a member of the Big Ten.

Hinson said that Rutgers' affiliation with the Big East Conference has been used against the Scarlet Knights by other programs in the recruitment of top players.

"Rutgers' conference affiliation has often been used as a negative recruiting tool," Hinson said. "The Big Ten instantly adds more status and credibility to the program."

Delsea coach Sal Marchese also said that Rutgers will have an edge in recruiting top-level players. Marchese thinks the Scarlet Knights' future opponents will be a big lure.

"I would definitely think they will get more high-profile kids," Marchese said. "When you are playing Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State . . ."

Rutgers' recruiting edge is sharpened by other factors as well. With Penn State still facing years of sanctions as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and Temple's future uncertain because of the unsettled state of the Big East, Rutgers could be an even more alluring destination for top South Jersey players.

Maryland, which also announced that it will join the Big Ten this week, also could emerge as a more prominent force in area recruiting for top South Jersey athletes who want to play in the Big Ten and stay fairly close to home.

Rutgers and Maryland are expected to join the Big Ten for football for the 2014 season.

Lawry has 1,828 rushing yards this season and has scored 10 touchdowns in his last two games. He has made unofficial visits to Rutgers, Penn State and Temple.

"The big thing with the Big Ten is the schools that [Rutgers] will be playing," Lawry said. "I think a lot of top recruits will be looking at them more and more."

Little, who also is a top defensive back, has 853 rushing yards on just 88 carries in Williamstown's balanced attack. He has Rutgers, Penn State, West Virginia and Colorado among his top possible destinations.

"With Rutgers going to the Big Ten, it's going to a whole new thing as far as revenue and environment," Little said. "More recruits are going to want to go there."


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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